History and Mission


Ward 8 Woods Conservancy is a grassroots nonprofit organization that works to rejuvenate and enhance the beauty, ecological health, and public enjoyment of the more than 500 acres of forest in the Ward 8 section of Washington, DC. We engage residents as paid staff and as volunteers to restore the woodland ecology, build trails, and promote healthy and sustainable living.  We use the woods as a tool for healing and empowerment.

We envision a future in which all Washingtonians enjoy clean air, clean water, and connection to the natural world in safe, well-maintained public lands. By caring for this small piece of earth, we do our part in the global struggle for a vibrant and livable planet for generations to come.


Ward 8 Woods grew out of the Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway, started in 2011 by legendary activist Philip Pannell, then head of the Congress Heights Community Association, and Nathan Harrington, then a new resident of Congress Heights and today the Executive Director of Ward 8 Woods. The Committee’s work on Shepherd Parkway – at 197 acres, the largest of Ward 8’s four wooded areas — presaged what would, seven years later, become Ward 8 Woods.

 It mobilized 2,000+ volunteers to remove upwards of 100,000 pounds of trash and to cut invasive vines from hundreds of trees. The Committee also lobbied the National Park Service (NPS) and DC government to improve the Parkway.  This advocacy bore fruit when, in 2019, NPS began a concept-planning process for Shepherd Parkway.

 In 2018, the Committee took on a new name and administrative structure as Ward 8 Woods, under the sponsorship of the Anacostia Coordinating Council. With funding from the DC Department of Energy and the Environment and the DC Office of Planning, Ward 8 Woods launched the Park Stewards program. The program provides year-round, part-time employment to Ward 8 residents who face barriers to employment that can include criminal history, family challenges, gaps in education, or disability.

Park Stewards act as caretakers for the more than 500 acres of forest in Ward 8. They remove trash, curb, invasive species, and share our message with local residents. Ward 8 Woods regularly provides Park Stewards training in skills relevant to our work that will equip them for future green jobs.

The Ward 8 Woods Conservancy incorporated as an independent 501(c)3 organization in 2019, in recognition of the ongoing need for restoration, maintenance, public engagement, education and advocacy work in and around the woods of Ward 8.

Ward 8 Woods is the only environmental organization dedicated solely to Ward 8 and the only green jobs program specifically for Ward 8 residents. 

© 2022 Ward 8 Woods Conservancy. All Rights Reserved.

Ward 8 Woods Conservancy